Survey of the Bible - Song of Solomon

Text: Proverbs 1:1-7


I.         The Song of Solomon is the last in the collection of wisdom literature

            A.        Job teaches us how to suffer, Psalms teaches us how to pray, Proverbs teaches us how to act, Ecclesiastes teaches us how to enjoy life, and Song of Solomon teaches us how to love

            B.        In the Hebrew Bible it is called “The Song of Songs”

            C.        The book has seen its share of controversy.

                        1.         It is one of the few Old Testament books not quoted in the New Testament, but that list also includes none controversial books: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Ecclesiastes

                        2.         You’ll see some claim that God isn’t mentioned in the book, but He is one of the speakers and He is mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:6

                        3.         Mostly the controversy comes because of the topic it covers

            D.        Authorship

                        1.         Song of Solomon 1:1 attributes the book to Solomon. However, the wording is vague enough to read it as a book written for Solomon.

                        2.         Solomon had written songs - I Kings 4:32

                        3.         Solomon is mentioned seven times in the book

                        4.         I Kings 4:33 mentions Solomon’s interest in nature

                                    a.         Song of Solomon refers to 21 species of plants and 15 species of animals.

            E.        Time

                        1.         Northern and southern Israel are still united - Song of Solomon 6:4

                                    a.         After Solomon dies, Tirzah changes name to Samaria and becomes the capitol of northern Israel.

                        2.         It mentions that Solomon had 60 wives and 80 concubines - Song of Solomon 6:8

                                    a.         Solomon eventually has 700 wives and 300 concubines - I Kings 11:3

                        3.         There is mention of luxuries - Song of Solomon 3:6-11

                        4.         Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, is mentioned as still living - Song of Solomon 3:11

                        5.         So the book was written in the early to middle part of his reign

II.        Character of Song of Solomon

            A.        Again, the first line tells us that is a “song of songs”

                        1.         A collection of smaller songs (poems) compiled to form a longer one.

                        2.         It can also mean that this is the best of all songs

                        3.         Likely both are true and the ambiguity is purposeful

            B.        It is the only book in the Bible that is written from the female’s point of view.

                        1.         There are other books which focuses on women (Ruth, Esther), but this book gives insight into what woman is thinking and how she perceives the world.

            C.        It is difficult because it is poetry set in a time and place that is quite different from our own.

                        1.         Most people find poetry hard anyway

                        2.         But here images are presented that are unfamiliar to us.

                        3.         For example, To tell a young lady that her hair looks like a flock of goats coming down the mountain sounds like an insult to modern ears - Song of Solomon 6:5

                                    a.         In that culture goats were plentiful and generally were dark-haired. To see goats coming down the mountain in the distance where it would be hard to distinguish one goat from the other invokes a picture of dark, flowing hair that bounces and moves.

            D.        The book is done as a play

                        1.         There is almost no narration. The story moves along by listening to what people say.

                        2.         This is perfect medium for a book from a woman’s point of view since women tend to be verbal.

                        3.         But what makes it really hard is that the parts aren’t marked.

                                    a.         We aren’t told who says what lines.

                                    b.         It has to be deduced from what is said and what pronouns are used.

            E.        This has led to three views of the book

                        1.         People who are uncomfortable with the topics raised will often claim that it is an allegory of God’s relationship to Israel or Christ’s relationship to the church.

                                    a.         The church is the bride of Christ - Ephesians 5:23-25

                                    b.         Therefore most discussion of marriage can illustrate aspects of Christ and the church

                                    c.         However, there are elements in Song of Solomon which stretches the illustration too far.

                        2.         Another view is that of a three way love affair.

                                    a.         Pasty Rae Dawson in “Marriage a Taste of Heaven” is a well-known proponent of this view.

                                    b.         It is seen as a young woman trying to decide whether to marry her sweetheart, a shepherd in the country where she grew up, or King Solomon who wants her to be his bride. Eventually the shepherd wins out.

                                    c.         The difficulty with this view is that it must treat the dialogue as a large series of flashback and flash forward in time. Without this events would take place out of their rightful sequence.

                        3.         The view I think is accurate is that it is a play about Solomon marrying an Israelite maiden to be his queen

                                    a.         This would be his first non-political marriage. The first he marries because of love.

                                    b.         The elements in the play then run in chronological order from courtship to marriage, to married life.

                                    c.         People have a hard time with this because how could a man who has 60 wives and 80 concubines really know about godly love.

                                    d.         I don’t have a good answer to that other than to point out that David also had multiple wives. It wasn’t right.

                                                (1)       Still, it appears this woman was the only Israelite that Solomon married - I Kings 3:1; 11:1-4

                                                (2)       His foreign wives did not have equal status - II Chronicles 8:11

                                                (3)       It might explain why Solomon was lead astray until his old age.

III.       Division of the Song of Solomon

            A.        Courtship

                        1.         Her arrival in Jerusalem - Song of Solomon 1:2-11

                        2.         Daydreams during dinner - Song of Solomon 1:12-14

                        3.         Dreams of a home in the forest - Song of Solomon 1:15-2:3

                        4.         A formal banquet - Song of Solomon 2:4-7

                        5.         Spring and the approaching wedding - Song of Solomon 2:8-17

            B.        Wedding

                        1.         Fears just before the wedding - Song of Solomon 3:1-5

                        2.         The wedding ceremony - Song of Solomon 3:6-11

                        3.         The wedding night - Song of Solomon 4:1-5:1a

            C.        Married life

                        1.         Complacency toward her husband - Song of Solomon 5:1b-6:3

                        2.         The art of repairing a broken relationship - Song of Solomon - 6:4-13

                        3.         Mature love - Song of Solomon 7:1-9

                        4.         Spicing up the marriage - Song of Solomon 7:10-8:4

            D.        Advice on marriage - Song of Solomon 8:5-14

IV.      Importance of Song of Solomon

            A.        God teaches us all things pertaining to life and godliness - II Peter 1:2-4

            B.        Teens and young adults need to know how romance should be.

                        1.         How men ought to treat women

                        2.         How men and women ought to behave

                        3.         For young men, a clue to how women think

            C.        Married couples need to know how to treat each other

                        1.         How to settle disputes

                        2.         How to become one

            D.        Chastity

                        1.         Keep a covenant with your self and your future spouse - Song of Solomon 2:17

                        2.         Family is there to help you - Song of Solomon 8:8-9

            E.        Love

                        1.         Cannot be hurried. It needs to develop at its own pace - Song of Solomon 2:7

                        2.         Allowed to grow it becomes unquenchable - Song of Solomon 8:6-7

            F.        Disputes

                        1.         Settle them early, when they are small - Song of Solomon 2:15

                        2.         Resolve problems by focusing on what is important - Song of Solomon 6:10-12

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